BMWs have emerged fastest across two hours of practice for the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour today at Mount Panorama.
Sherrin Racing’s BMW M4 (pictured) topped the first 60-minute session held in perfect sunny conditions this morning at Bathurst, the 2016 runners-up posting a 2m27.88s to top the charts.
FULL TIMES: Click here for all session times at the Bathurst 6 Hour
That lap, set in cooler conditions in morning, would not be beaten in the second 60-minute session held in warmer conditions later in the day – one that was topped by the Paul Morris / Luke Searle / Barry Graham BMW M135i at 2m28.264s.
Morris’ lap in practice two would turn out to be the second fastest of the day, ensuring BMWs sit 1-2 heading into tomorrow’s third practice session and the all-important qualifying session.
However it was the pleased Queensland brothers and their bright red M4 who head into Saturday on top of the Bathurst times.
“We are pretty happy straight out of the box. It is a good car to drive, it is nice and stable, a little bit wider and a little bit longer than the old 135i. It has a bit bigger tyres on it so cornering and the grip levels are just up there,” Grant Sherrin said.
“The new tiptonic DCU gearbox is something to get used to, but it is good fun. It is quick down the straights and up the hill – really quick – and overall it is a nice car to drive.
“After the test days where it everything went well we did think it would be quick here, but there is a whole lot of unknowns coming here too – there are a lot of new cars here, and it is still early days with a lot of people still getting into the groove.
“We will see what happens – the main thing is that we are on the grid on Sunday and from there, we will see where we end up.”
The new cars built for the 2017 race were quick ‘out of the box’ – though not everyone had a trouble free day.
Rod Salmon and Nathan Antunes’ Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG was second in the opening practice session and third overall for the day, the quickest of the three-strong Mercedes brigade.
Dylan Thomas and Tim Slade were fourth overall in their CXC Global Racing Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X RS, Slade setting their car’s best time of 2m28.439 late in the first session.
Slade’s Supercars rival Karl Reindler put the similar Lancer he will share with Andrew Richmond to fifth overall thanks to his strong 2m28.492s in practice two, while defending winners Nathan Morcom and Chaz Mostert completed the combined top six positions in the brand-new Direct Plasterboard Outlet Ford Focus RS.
Less than one second covered the top six cars across the two sessions, representing four different brands.
Beric Lynton and Tim Leahey (BMW 1M) and David Wall and John Bowe (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO were next while Jeromy Gray and Jason Gomersall combined to put their Falcon FG GT-F ninth overall and first of the ‘Aussie’ Muscle cars.
The day was not without incident, several drivers either enduring mechanical difficulties or finding Mount Panorama’s unforgiving concrete barriers today.
The highest-profile drama was felt by the highly fancied GWR Australia Mercedes AMG A45 hatch, to be driven by Garth Walden and Craig Baird this weekend.
Just five laps into the first session the car blew a Turbo, forcing the team to pull parts from the donor car to get back on track for the afternoon session, where Craig Baird posted the eighth fastest time – putting the team 10th overall for the day. The team is set to change an engine overnight to ensure the car is set for qualifying.
Meanwhile, the second session was halted to recover the Aaron McGill / Aaron Tebb Mitsubishi that crashed at the dipper mid-session. With the driver unharmed, the team faces a long night to get on track tomorrow.
Class A1 (Extreme Performance – Forced Induction) cars filled the first eleven positions in the first session and the top 15 spots in practice two, though the car that won the race last year continues to show its speed.
Jack Perkins and Leigh Burges were quickest of the class B1 cars in the first session, Perkins’ 2m31.139 standing as the fastest time of the day for the class.
The Symonds / Lane / Bargwanna VY HSV topped Class A2 in both sessions, while the Krinelos / Virag / Loscialpo VF SS Redline topped the battle for B2 honours in practice one and two.
Colin Osborne and Hadrian Morall (Renault Megane RS265) topped Class C in the first practice, while Super2 driver Todd Hazelwood and Rob Rubis led the way in practice two in their BMW 130i.
Jimmy Vernon and Michael Caine topped both sessions in Class D in their Toyota 86, while the Cowham / Kearns AU Falcon topped the Invitational class both times on-track today.
The Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour cars return to the track early Saturday Morning, practice 3 to run for 40 minutes from 7:40.
Two qualifying sessions (Bottom 50% followed by the top 50%) will then each run for 30 minutes from 12:50pm.
COMBINED PRACTICE TIMES – HI-TEC OILS BATHURST 6 HOUR
1. Sherrin / Sherrin BMW M4 2m27.885
2. Morris / Searle / Graham BMW M135i 2m28.264
3. Salmon / Antunes Mercedes-Benz AMG A45 2m28.339
4. Thomas / Slade Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X RS 2m28.439
5. Reindler / Richmond Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X RS 2m28.492
6. Morcom / Mostert Ford Focus RS 2m28.828
7. Lynton / Leahey BMW 1M 2m29.089
8. Wall / Bowe Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9 2m29.310
9. Gray / Gomersall Ford Falcon FGII GT-F 2m30.175
10. Walden / Baird Mercedes-Benz AMG A45 2m30.248
A1. Sherrin / Sherrin (BMW M4)
A2. Symonds / Lane / Bargwanna (HSV GTS)
B1. Perkins / Burges (BMW 335i)
B2. Krinelos / Virag / Loscialpo (Holden VF SSV Redline)
C. Osborne / Morall (Renault Megane RS265)
D. Vernon / Caine (Toyota 86 GTS)
I. Cowham / Kearns (Ford Falcon AU Saloon Car.)